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It’s not easy to shake up old systems. Much of the last year in the news and around the business world has revolved around our ability (or inability) to make changes, revolutions, or disruptions in every industry. It seems like whether you’re an energy company or an energy drink, you can’t hide from a ravenous market of consumers hungry for something different. And on some level, you may be feeling that squeeze with your own employees.
Are you tired of the way messages are communicated in your office? Are you looking for a better way to get out your most important announcements, share news, and promote enthusiasm for the team’s work? You’re not the only one. And if you’re feeling stale about your internal comms strategy, here are few simple ways you can start shaking things up immediately. Give a few of these a shot this week, and see how it starts to change the conversation.
While you may think that you’re doing your employees a favor by sending them one-off communications, it may actually be doing them a disservice.
Doug Belshaw, a technology consultant, says it like this: “Many managers are so busy spending time in meetings and doing their own work that they catch up with email whenever they can. Sometimes this can be late at night, or on the weekend… it puts pressure on the members of your team to be constantly available.” Start from scratch.
For the next month, spend the first part of each week drawing up a schedule of the communications you know you’ll need to send out, then draft them, and schedule them on your calendar to be pushed out. When you take preemptive measures to automatically push out content at a scheduled time and place, you optimize both your own time and your team’s time. Let’s make recognition a proactive thing. Scheduled and automated messages can go a long way. The thing is, we’re all human and prone to error. Work piles up and we forget to make the announcements we intend to. Say you’re a sales manager and need to remind your team to be prepped and dressed for an important client meeting, or maybe you’re in HR and need to remind everyone office-wide that enrollment for benefits opens next week. When your messages are scheduled to send at the time you need it to, it takes a lot of pressure off your already tight timeline.
All that scheduling will make a big difference in freeing up your time to focus on performance management, or even prospecting, but that doesn’t mean you’re in a box now. A little bit of creativity can go a long way around the office, and being able to surprise your team with a new initiative, or even a small celebration, might mean a whole lot for morale. It’s not always about bonuses and rewards (although, those are nice as well). Celebrating individuals and teams for their progress and performance in the moment can actually create longer lasting impressions than rewards given out quarterly or yearly.
So don’t feel as if a quick shout-out in the office is a silly or fruitless endeavor. How engaged your team feels correlates directly to how well they perform, reinforcing good habits and turning them into long-term behaviors. Praise all, and praise often.
As most good leaders know, the real trick of leading well is knowing how to delegate. Collaboration is delegation without the power structure. If you’re struggling to reach your employees in a meaningful way, try to bring them into the fold of what you want to accomplish. Get everyone mutually invested, and watch how the conversation really begins to take off. If you’re not using a collaboration tool already, try Slack or Trello.
We’re in a digital age where collaboration happens at any time, any where. No longer are we playing email and phone tag, waiting for a response or approval on a minor detail. For an even more attention-grabbing reach, use a Slack integration to broadcast your messages on your TVs office-wide. It’s all about working together faster and smarter.
Writing for Forbes, leadership expert Glenn Llopis explains to power of transparency in opening up not only communication, but also a whole new culture of creativity and productivity: “When leaders can be deliberate about their team profile and concerns – as it pertains to both individuals and the collective unit – this allows the group to mature together and find creative ways to discover the best mix/match to deliver on performance expectations.” Transparency seems like a no-brainer, but oftentimes can be a tricky – sometimes tedious – process.
How do you know what to share or when to share it? I’m not saying you need to spew out every number from the finance department, or every detail of your partner negotiations. Share what fosters growth, drive, and creativity. If you’re on the sales team, share your metrics and goal progress. If you’re on the customer success team, share news about customer renewals and churns. If you’re in marketing, share mentions in the press and how campaigns are going. With integrations that automate updates like these and more, there’s no excuse for having poor communication with your peers. When you promote transparency company-wide, across departments, trust happens and engagement grows.
If you want a communication strategy that not only opens up your team to fresh ideas, but also provides a healthy and productive culture of growth, err on the side being transparent. You may be amazed at what honesty, openness, and vulnerability can do for a team.
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